By Toni Vallan
Published on November 16, 2015
Published by: Infinite Ink Books
Published by: Infinite Ink Books
My name’s Ella Raimi.
Until last week, my life was pretty normal for a sixteen-year-old. Until I spent that awful night trapped in the janitor's closet in utter darkness. Until the dreams began — suffocating, panic-filled dreams. My best friend Kyla stays with me, but the dreams still continue. And I wake each morning with cuts & burns on my skin. I don’t recall inflicting them.
And then there is the blood on my hands and my sheets when I wake up.
I’m afraid of myself and what I've done.
And I'm beginning to be more afraid of Kyla. And what she will do.
In case you don't know this about me, I am a horror fan. I love horror, psychological thrillers... Anything of the sort. When I saw Dark Shadows on Netgalley (THANKS NETGALLEY!), I thought this would be the perfect book for me. It has all of the elements that I love, and the cover is pretty darn creepy. Unfortunately, it just didn't hit the right notes for me, and I found myself pretty disappointed.
The book starts with Ella being shoved into a janitor's closet at the end of the school day, and being locked in overnight. She isn't found until the next morning when the janitor shows up and finds her unresponsive, with her nails shredded from trying to claw her way out. That night at home, she has her first dream of being locked in a box and not being able to escape. The next morning, she wakes up with tiny little cuts all over her arm, a razor lying in the bathroom, and no memory of hurting herself. Her best friend Kyla wants her to get revenge on the boys who did this to her, but Ella refuses. They are rich and popular, so they will only get away with it, and it will make things worse for Ella. After another incident with one of the kids from school, Ella wakes up the next morning covered in blood, and hears the news that the boy is dead. Things get progressively strange for Emma, and she doesn't know what is happening to her. Is she responsible, or is Kyla protecting her, regardless of the cost?
In theory, this sounds like a book that would be fantastic for me. In execution, it just fell short. The pacing was very slow, with the incidents happening only randomly enough to keep me interested. The writing style itself isn't bad, but it doesn't flow quite smoothly, and there was a lot of editing down that could have been done. As far as the characters go, I just couldn't connect with any of them, and I think that is ultimately what created such a disconnect for me. Ella was a shell of a character who didn't have much personality. She cried a lot, but was never proactive, just set back and let Kyla or her mom or Doctor tell her how to think or feel. When revelations were made towards the end of the story, Ella accepted everything very well, barely blinking an eye. And the big reveal towards the end, while it was a good one, was easily predictable and the reveal was very anti-climatic.
While this story could have brought chills to the reader, I feel like it was a big miss. There wasn't enough emotion driving the story, and there was no characterization or growth to speak of. I think the author has potential to create a fantastic story, but the elements didn't come together in a way that worked for me. Now, don't let my review keep you from reading the story. Please! There are a ton, and I mean a TON, of positive reviews out there for Dark Shadows. The story has worked for a lot of people. Unfortunately, I am the odd woman out on this one. But give it a shot, because you might be one of the ones that loved it!